Sen. Wyden Proposes Bill To Protect Journalists From Government Surveillance

A bill to protect the First Amendment rights and personal data of journalists has been introduced by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon).

The Protect Reporters from Excessive State Suppression (PRESS) Act proposes legal protections on government surveillance of journalists in the wake of revelations that the Department of Justice obtained information on reporters at CNN, The Washington Post, and The New York Times, allowing only narrow exceptions for terrorism and threat of imminent violence or harm.  

“The Trump Administration spied on reporters it suspected of no crimes in its hunt to identify their sources and prevent the American people from learning the truth about Trump’s lawlessness and corruption,” Wyden states.  

However, while President Biden and Attorney General Garland have pledged to end such abuses, this is best done by legislation, not by rules that can be overturned by future administrations, Wyden notes.   



The new bill proposes “clear rules protecting reporters from government surveillance written into black-letter law,” Wyden says. 

According to a synopsis from Widen, the proposed act: 

  • Requires the federal government to provide journalists the chance to respond to demands for records, information or other communications. 
  • Extends these compelled disclosure standards to include “email, telephone and other third-party providers holding data that could reveal a journalist’s source.”  

The bill defines a covered journalist as “someone who gathers, prepares, collects, photographs, records, writes, edits, reports or publishes news or information that concerns news events or other matters of public interest for dissemination to the public.” 

Wyden claims endorsements from

  • News Media Alliance  
  • Radio Television Digital News Association  
  • Society of Professional Journalists  
  • National Association of Broadcasters  
  • News Leaders Association  


1 comment about "Sen. Wyden Proposes Bill To Protect Journalists From Government Surveillance".
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  1. Mark Dubis from The Dubis Group, June 29, 2021 at 4:57 p.m.

    If government employees, members of Congress, and other officials are suspected of leaking private correspondence to the press, then the Government can use whatever means necessary to identify and stop those leaks, but t hey should punish the person leaking the information. 

    If an when an employee of the government chooses to leak information they can do so at their own risk.  Edward Snowden made a choice to reveal information and he has paid a price for that leak.  

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